January 19, 1922 to June 2, 2018
He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.
Lee Christensen (Buddy) became suddenly ill last week and passed away at the hospital on Saturday. He was very healthy physically and mentally right up until a few days before his death. He died peacefully and without pain.
Lee was born in Chicago, Illinois, where his father was attending law school at Northwestern University, on either November 19, 1921 or January 19, 1922 (dependent on whether you go by the date Lee's family celebrated or his birth certificate). After his father's graduation from Northwestern, the family returned to Mt. Pleasant, Utah, where Lee was known as "Buddy." Lee spent his summers either working on his grandfather's sheep ranch or on a summer project assigned by his father (e.g. minding a cow and selling milk, growing and selling potatoes, chopping down trees and selling the firewood).
Lee played in the marching band at Hamilton grade school, and initially attended North Sanpete High School. During his junior and senior years, Lee attended Wasatch Academy, where in his 1939 yearbook, it was noted that, "he has the type of mind you can sharpen your own on." Lee graduated from Wasatch Academy in 1940 as vice-president of his senior class.
Shortly after graduation, Lee enlisted in the Army, where he was selected to attend Officer Training School in 1942, and was sent to Europe to serve on the front lines of WWII. Lee participated in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day IV, where he was wounded in battle on August 1, 1944 on the outskirts of Percy, France. He was back in action on December 15. If you're a WWII buff (like Lee) you will remember that Hitler had planned his Ardennes offensive (Battle of the Bulge) to begin on December 1. Per Lee, "Hitler was trying to start it before I could get back to the front. Hitler failed and the rest is history..." Lee was discharged from the Army on December 26, 1945 as a First Lieutenant.
After the end of the war, Lee continued in the Army Reserves (making rank of Major) and was a life-long amateur historian in WWII. He completed his bachelor degree in Political Science at UC Berkeley on the GI Bill, and was then hired by the federal government to work for its relatively new "start-up" – the Social Security Administration. Lee spent his entire career working for the SSA, helping ensure individuals understood social security and received their benefits. Lee retired from the SSA as an assistant regional commissioner out of the Seattle office.
Lee was an outdoor enthusiast and summited Mt Rainier twice. He loved all animals and never met a dog that didn't love him. Lee had a very rich Mormon background. All of his grandparents were born in Utah. He had great-grandparents in Nauvoo, Illinois, and all of them migrated to Utah by 1860, some as early as 1849. His father served a two-year mission in Norway from 1909 to 1912. Despite this, Lee was not a Mormon; although he studied genealogy and his family history (in the days before the internet, when everything was on paper records!)
Lee met Barbara Davis at Berkeley, and they married in December 1949.The couple divorced after raising three daughters (Kitty Christensen, Tracy Trick, and Robyn Christensen-Sandfort). Lee is survived by his three daughters and two grandchildren (Thomas Lee Sandfort and Maya Zichun Sandfort), and four sisters (Ruth Klass, Ginger Keville, Sally MacArthur, and Dottie Smith).
Per Lee's wishes, there will be no service. Brookside Funeral Home is assisting the family. Lee will be cremated and his ashes spread on the ranch in Yakima, WA, overlooking the hills and mountains that he loved.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to one of the following organizations:
- America's VetDogs: https://www.vetdogs.org/AV/HowtoHelp/AV/HowToHelp/howtohelp.aspx?hkey=677506ac-919b-46bf-8ca8-52a79662f43d
- Wasatch Academy: http://wasatchacademy.org/giving/